February 21, 2007

Q: What Makes A Nice Restaurant High Chair?

Stokke Tripp Trapp high chairs at MoMA's cafe

I've been thinking a couple of things about restaurant high chairs recently [yes, forecast calls for a high dad-dork alert in the area. whatryagonnado?].

1) We went to the cafeteria at MoMA last week for lunch. [A pannini, ravioli, and kid's pasta=$40, so heads up] I knew they had Stokke Tripp Trapp high chairs, because I'd gone out of my way to photograph them a while back. It was news to the kid, though, and she flipped out when she saw so many chairs like hers, in a rainbow of colors and finishes. She picked out her own color [green], and the restaurant dude brought it over to the table for her. Very nice. [She never freaks when she sits in an Ikea high chair just like hers, though. Go figure.]

2) Until I posted about his other work, it never occurred to me that someone--Stephan Gip, as far as I can tell--actually designed the pyramid-shaped, wood chair that is nearly every restaurant in town/the world.


3) Now that I think about it, those grey Rubbermaid industrial supply high chairs gross me out, even when we break out the anti-bacterial wipes.

Has anyone seen a restaurant high chair that was surprisingly nice? [The Ikea Antilop might count; I still love that thing and have seen it in a lot of Euro restaurants that don't serve meatballs. In the US, not so much.]

Would you notice or care if a restaurant had a Stokke or Svan or an Argington or some other high-design high chair? Or does "surprisingly nice" in this case just mean "doesn't drop the kid on his head" and "not caked with goo from the last dozen kids who sat in them"?


The standard high chair is pretty amazing. They seem pretty indestructible and way it supports an infant carseat when the high chair is flipped upside down is an added bonus. Don't know if this was intended design or the discovery of a creative wait staff.

[it's definitely an adaptation; the original above has a raised back that keeps it from being used upside down. I agree, it's one of those invisible design achievements. -ed.]

I want to know why restaurants buy all these chairs but spend mo money on cleaning them or repairing the buckles. Busted or gross chairs won't get my repeat business.

Gotta second the love for the white plastic IKEA chair... that thing still fits her at over 2 years despite its minimalist space-saving ways.

I've also noticed that a feature of any high chair is that you invariably bang long adult legs into it, so thank god for light chairs... I almost destroyed my toes (in slippers, nonetheless) on the heavy hardwood high chair in my inlaws' kitchen in Japan.

Here is the highchair that caught our hearts:

We have a higher that normal kitchen counter and finding a highchair for it was really hard. The wonderful thing about this chair is that you can saw off the legs and any other irrelevant part as the kid grows.

The surface is infinished wood, so we waxed it for improved maintenance.

The chair is designed by Maartje Steenkamp, originally for her own kids.

[true, but it'd be hell in a restaurant; if you get there after a family with a bigger kid, they've probably already sawed the legs too low. Or maybe it's like a 'jackets required' place, which keeps a few coats in various sizes on hand... -ed.]

We partook in the Eric Carle industrial complex (hell we live in Western Mass after all) and were really impressed with the Artek high chairs they have at the Eric Carle Museum Cafe. By far the nicest modern designed chair I've seen, in a restaurant or otherwise.

One restaurant here has the old-style Ikea high chairs, that are the fold out, laundry style stand with a chair part that clips on.

It's great, and the seat can easily be clipped off and tossed in the industrial dishwasher for a quick cleaning.

There are Svan Chairs at the Westfield Malls which is pretty cool. I like them because I can use a tray....they need to be kept clean though.

Well, the basic restaurant high chair is good now that our kid is 16 months. When he was 6 or 7 months old, the chairs were often too short (when the restaurant has those high, thick butcher-block tables) for him to actually reach the table (yet he was too big to recline in an infant carrier). Some sort of height adjustment feature would be great, since not all restaurant tables or babies are the same height.
I can't say that I've encountered any particularly nice restaurant high chairs. I definitely would notice and get a small thrill out of it.

These are one of the worst restaurant highchairs in the world. They have one in a very small local cafe and it takes up masses of space. My daughter used to love kicking it, it not only made a horrendous noise, but it would slowly propel itself across the floor. Another local cafe has these, with hooks on the hallway wall to hang them when they're not in use. Much better. Those pyramid ones have quite a short shelf-life - we gave up trying to force our daughter's legs into them several months before she was really able to do without a highchair. Tripp Trapp are good (one nice local restaurant has those, but you have to book them!), including for slightly older toddlers, and the Bella Italia chain use Handysitts, as do Starbucks, come to think of it, which again are great for older toddlers.

Here in Holland, the Tripp Trapp is the basic highchair in most restaurants/cafes. I have two at home for the kids and totally love them. However, I don't know that they are necessarily nicer high chairs in public settings-- they still get a lot of gross stuff caught in the strap area (here we have the wooden bar, rather than the strap harness), and are still usually pretty dirty. So ultimately, I think 'nice' depends more on the quality of cleanliness than the design quality of the chair itself.

There's also these that I've seen in a few restaurants that just attach to a regular chair. They then hang them up on a wall when not using them. I like the Tripp Trapp too and love it when restaurants spend a few more bucks on furnishings for kids, but this one has my vote as they seem to be easy to keep free of grub and they look cool.

As someone in the restaurant industry, I must say there's really no excuse for dirty chairs or broken safety straps. You can buy replacement straps really easily and replacing them takes 5 minutes at the most. The nice thing is that there are a lot of well-designed restaurant high chairs available these days that allow us restaurateurs to match the chair to the decor of the restaurant and offer parents options.

I saw a really cool restaurant highchair called the kiddikone. Go to www.somewebsellerthatistryingtojacktheirowngoogleresults.com all my kids love the bright colours

[this url has been edited. -ed.]

Those are horrible. Also I believe you are a shill.

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